In Greek mythology, the Argonauts were a band of heroes who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest for the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo which in turn was named after its builder Argus. They were sometimes called Minyans, after a prehistoric tribe of the area.
Pelias, king of Iolcus in Thessaly (near the modern city of Volos), had been warned to be on his guard against a man with one shoe and, one day, upon seeing his nephew Jason with only one sandal (the other having been lost in crossing a stream), bade him to go and fetch the Golden Fleece, hoping that he would be killed in the attempt.
Jason was accompanied by some of the principal heroes of ancient Greece. The number of Argonauts varies but usually totals between 40 and 55 – traditional versions of the story place their number at 50.
Some have hypothesised that the legend of the Golden Fleece was based on a practice of the Black Sea tribes of placing a lamb's fleece at the bottom of a stream to entrap particles of gold being washed down from upstream. This practice was still in use in recent times.
- Atalanta (others claim Jason forbade her because she was a woman)
- Theseus (others claim he was still in the underworld at the time)